Brouwerji Van Steenberge Gulden Draak

gulden_drakBrewer: Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V., Ertvelde, Belgium
Style: Dark Triple Ale
ABV: 10.5%

Description: This brew takes it name and logo from the dragon that sits atop the Belfry of Ghent, one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city center of Ghent, Belgium. This dark triple is one of several beers brewed by the Van Steenberge brewery in the town of Ertvelde and uses dark malts, a mild dose of hops, and wine yeast for secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: I first tried this beer back in Ottawa, many years ago. Lucky for me I found a steady supply again and decided to give it a proper review, for I seriously forgot what it tasted like, which is pretty fantastic. Rich, sugary malts packed with notes of dark fruits combine with a yeasty backbone, resulting in a tasty, velvety flavor that is surprisingly smooth in spite of the alcohol content. Definitely something that requires re-re-sampling!

Appearance: Dark brown/amber, very cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Dark malt, yeasty, demerera sugar, white wine
Taste: Smooth malt, brown sugar, flavors of dates, raisins, grape, yeasty effervescence
Aftertaste: Lingering malt and yeasty notes, hint of spice
Overall: 9.5/10

Dubussion Scaldis Ambrée

Scaldis-Ambree-bout-verre-270x400Brewer: Dubussion, Pipaix, Belgium
Style: Belgian Amber
Alc/Vol: 11.8%

Description: The Scaldis amber is an unfiltered, high fermentation beer fashioned exclusively made from caramel malt, hops, natural sugar, water drawn from the brewery’s basement and an exclusive yeast. The end result is then stored for a period of 4 to 6 weeks to achieve its characteristic combination of dense malt, smooth flavor and the highest alcohol content of any Belgian beer (11.8% ABV).

Tasting Notes: The Scaldis Ambrée is another first for this Beer Snob, and apparently a rather significant one as it is apparently Belgian’s strongest. It was also quite fitting as a extra strong amber, bringing that characteristic combination of maltiness, sugary sweetness and fruity esters one would expect. What was surprising for me was the level of smoothness. Given the alcohol content, I expected it to be far more coarse. Still, the alcohol does comes through with the rather delightful warming sensation it finishes with. This beer is recommended as an aperitif or digestif, and I can attest to it being well-suited to the latter.

Appearance: Amber, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Rich and coarse malt, sugars, notes of cherry, fruity esters, caramel
Taste: Smooth malt, slight tang and coarseness, syrupy sweetness, warm alcohol finish
Aftertaste: Lingering coarse malt flavor, sugars, cherry and fruit esters
Overall: 9/10

Stillwater Artisanal Stateside Saison

StillwaterArtisanal1Hello all! Hope this post finds everyone content and comfortable on these glorious summer days! Now that the wife and I have acclimated back to our lives here in Brentwood Bay, I decided to get back to sampling some new and exciting beers. And so, on one of our many walks into town, I picked up a few new items that I’ve been putting off until now. One such bottle comes from Westminster Maryland, care of the renowned Stillwater Artisanal brewery.

stillwater-saisonI would admit that this brewery has been previously unknown to me, hence why I was avoiding picking up any bottles that have been popping up at my local sudsy dispensers. That, plus the high price for a single bottle (in the vicinity of ten dollars for a 750 ml bottle) was a little dissuading. But after consulting with my bud at my favorite local beer store, I learned that not only was this particular beer critically acclaimed, it was also his favorite example of a Belgian-style beer produced outside of Belgium. How could I resist?


Appearance:
Deep gold, cloudy, good foam retention and carbonation

Nose: Yeasty, light, sugary malts
Taste: Immediate hints of barley-wine like malts, Belgian yeast, mild oak
Aftertaste: Clean finish, lingering yeasts
Overall: 9.5/10

Many times over, I got a Westmalle Tripel feel from this beer. It’s color, taste, and yeasty, effervescent quality were very similar to that Belgian classic! It differed in that it was lighter on the malt and sugar levels, and of course alcohol content as well. Overall, I’d have to say my friends appraisal could very well be right. This beer really could be one of the best Belgian-style beers to be found outside of Belgium.

Corsendonk Pater Dubbel

corsendonk_paterA familiar name popped for me at the liquor store during my most recent visit. It goes by the name of Corsendonk, a Belgian brewery that I first encountered during my extensive time in the fine bistros of Vineyards and Pub Italia back in my hometown of Ottawa. I couldn’t remember the last time I had a beer by this brewery, or even which kind it was. So naturally, I snatched up one of their fine, 750ml corked bottles as soon as I could and set down to (re)sample it. In this case, it was the Corsendonk Pater, a double-fermented ale done in the traditional Belgian style of top-fermented, bottle conditioned beer.

I’ve had my share of Belgian dubbels in the past, but rarely have they been light, refreshing, and an fine example of clean drinking. But that’s the world of Belgian brewing, where a country with centuries of brewing traditions which boasts more breweries per square kilometer produces can still find ways to surprise you. So here’s what I thought of this traditional, yet surprising Belgian brew:

Appearance: Orange-brown, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Light, sugary malts, bouquet of raisins, apricots and yeast
Taste: Light, sweet malts, notes of raisins, plum fruit, champagne-like effervescence
Aftertaste: Very clean, mild taste of yeast and lingering malt
Overall: 8.5/10

Initially, I was hoping for something a little more sugary, and with stronger traces of raisins, plum fruits, and even spice. Basically, the stuff one expects from a strong Belgian ale. And yet, I couldn’t complain. Not only was it was refreshing and clean, the subtle nature of the taste was also quite pleasing. Moreover, it reminded of several other Belgian beers, such as Belle-Vue Gueze and others that incorporate champagne yeast into the fermentation process. At once bubbly, fruity, clean and mellow, this dubbel was quite the addition to my list of Belgian beers to sample!